[PHNUTR-L] Calcium, Exercise Vital for Kids' Bones
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD
fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com
Mon Feb 6 07:58:00 PST 2006
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Calcium, Exercise Vital for Kids' Bones
(Associated Press/AP Online)
Updated: Feb 6th 2006
By LINDSEY TANNER
CHICAGO - Doctors should evaluate children for the amount of calcium
they get and encourage them to exercise to help prevent an epidemic of
broken bones later in life, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises.
National data show that most American children over age 8 don't get
enough calcium, a deficiency that increases their risks for developing
osteoporosis in adulthood, the academy said in a report released Monday
in the journal Pediatrics.
The bone-thinning disease is associated with aging and afflicts 10
million Americans, mostly older women. National data show it is
responsible for more than 1.5 million bone fractures each year.
There's also evidence suggesting that fractures may be on the rise in
U.S. adolescents, perhaps because calcium-deficient diets and little
exercise already have weakened their bones even if they haven't yet
developed osteoporosis, said Dr. Craig B. Langman, who treats pediatric
bone problems at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital.
"We really should be having more recommendations to pediatricians to
think about long-term bone health in kids. This is an excellent first
step in doing that," said Langman, who was not involved in the report.
Calcium is needed for bone formation, and weight-bearing exercise
strengthens bones. For children, it could include soccer, basketball,
football, running - essentially any repetitive activity in which the
arms or legs bear the body's weight.
"You can take all the calcium you want, but if you don't do any
weight-bearing activity, you don't have good bone health," said report
co-author Dr. Frank Greer, a member of the academy's nutrition committee
and pediatrics professor at the University of Wisconsin.
U.S. youngsters are deficient in both for several reasons, Greer said:
They drink sodas instead of milk or calcium-fortified juice; they're
spending more time on TV, computers and video games, instead of
exercising; and many schools have phased out organized physical activities.
Milk and other dairy products are the most common calcium sources in
traditional Western diets, but there's no evidence that they are
superior to other sources, such as broccoli, Swiss chard and collard
greens, the report said. Still, children tend to avoid those, too, Greer
The Pediatrics report recommends doctors screen for calcium intake and
bone health three times during childhood: at age 2 to 3 after weaning
from breast milk or formula; at age 8 to 9, before the adolescent growth
spurt; and again during puberty or teen years, when the peak rate of
bone mass growth occurs.
Screening can include simple questions about diet, milk consumption,
amount of exercise, bone fractures and family history of osteoporosis,
the report said.
The report includes sample questions and recommendations for daily
calcium intake at various ages. It comes three years after the academy
issued guidelines for vitamin D, which is needed to help the body absorb
calcium. The 2003 guidelines recommend vitamin D supplements for babies
who only get breast-milk and older children at risk for deficiency.
Many U.S. youngsters are vitamin D deficient too because they don't
drink vitamin D-fortified milk and lack adequate exposure - without
sunscreen - to sunlight, which is needed for the body to produce the
vitamin. Doctors say only 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure weekly is
needed for adequate vitamin D production.
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD < fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com >
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